Saturday, June 4, 2011

Trip log: Camping

I know I haven't been posting a ton on this blog, but we haven't really traveled with the kids over the past few months, aside from our short road trip back in January. But now, finally, we've kicked off four-month stretch with three great trips planned! I want to do a "trip log" for each trip, to explain how we approached the trip and how it worked out. (I may go back and do trip logs for prior trips, too.)

Here goes!

We kicked off summer with a camping trip over Memorial Day weekend. Two of our friends organize this trip every year, and it's grown to include about 10 families, including some others with young kids.

We travel a lot with the kids, but this is probably the most challenging trip of all. Traveling with kids always requires a little bit of letting go, of understanding that sleep routines may be upset, that dinner may consist of just bread and water for a few days -- and that it's OK, the memories made are well worth the temporary upheaval. Camping requires a tremendous amount of letting go. The kids play in dirt all day long, and so the tents are filthy within hours of being set up. Bedtime is whenever the campsite gets quiet enough to allow for sleep or whenever the kids pass out from sheer exhaustion, whichever comes first, and usually, both occur well past bedtime back home. Meals frequently consist of 4 parts dessert to 1 part actual food. From a personal hygiene perspective, the kids are lucky if they wash their hands once a day; baths and teeth brushing are virtually unheard of. And you know what? It's OK. They survive. They have a blast. And we come home and take long baths and do lots of laundry and get a good night's sleep and all is right with the world again :)

Location: New Braunfels, Texas

Dates: May 27-30, 2011

Ages: Littles = almost 4 years, Noob = 15 months

Method(s) of transportation: Driving. We left after breakfast on Friday, stopped for lunch in Austin (about 3 hours from home and 1 hour from our destination), and arrived at the campsite early afternoon. For the return trip, we left after breakfast on Monday and drove virtually straight through, arriving home at around lunchtime.

Accommodations: Tents! We used a Coleman 8-person Instant Tent. Very easy to set up, and plenty of room for a family of 4 + associated clothes and gear.

Sleeping arrangements: Littles slept on her nap mat on top of a twin size air mattress. Noob slept in a Peapod Plus.

Eating arrangements: Littles usually sat in a kid-size folding camp chair. Noob used a Fisher Price Healthy Care Booster Seat. Since there were no chairs suitable for attaching the booster seat, we simply put it on the ground:


Keeping cool in the Guadalupe River.

Playing in dirt.

Eating S'mores by the campfire.

Hanging out with friends in camp.

Key piece of travel gear: Air conditioner! "Real" campers might laugh, but with temperatures soaring to over 100 degrees inside the tent by Noob's afternoon nap time, I consider some form of cooling-off device to be a necessity. Most of our fellow campers brought fans. Hubby opted to hook up an old portable air conditioner of ours, so that it vented out a window of our tent. It worked very well, although I'm sure it wasn't very environmentally friendly! I could see ditching it in a few years when the kids are done with naps, but for now -- yeah, it's coming along.

Biggest challenges: Keeping Noob from walking off the cliff on the edge of our campsite. Keeping Littles from consuming too much sugar.

What worked well and what didn't: We brought along a number of items that made the trip easier. And we forgot a lot of stuff that would have made it even easier. I'll do a separate blog post with a packing list, since I think it would be handy to refer back to when packing for next year's trip!

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